Note: Before the review, let me explain why this one was so long a wait to be posted. This time it wasn't on me. We had storms roll in last Wed. evening here in Michigan and we made it through without any problems. I waited for about 50 minutes after the storm had moved out and figured I'd be safe. So, I was on the computer, partially through posting this very review when the power suddenly, totally died. And stayed that way for over 2 days. When the house finally lit up, I found the computer totally dead. The power unit had to be replaced, as this last unexpected interruption finally did it in.
Now, on with the review!
Angel & Faith
Season (8), Issue 2
‘Where the River Meets the Sea”, part 2
Script: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (of Comicraft)
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: Angel and Faith resurrected the Watcher Rupert Giles and saved the world from a magical virus, sacrificing a corner of London to do it. The affected area – now called “Magic Town” – is filled with people transformed into magical creatures, some struggling to survive, some abusing strange new powers. Now Angel is once again looking after the fallout of his actions, while Faith, having delivered Giles to America, explores her options…
Page 01: We open on Faith and Kennedy aboard Deepscan’s corporate jet. Faith, having been hurt by Giles and Buffy’s reunion and realizing the status quo always quoes all over her has decided to join Kenn’s group of paid bodyguards to see how it fits.
Page 02: As Faith is staring out at the tarmac, she flashes back to her and Giles’ goodbyes. Rupert must’ve noticed Faith’s distress at his effusive reunion with Buffy, because he dashed up to her before she could slip away.
Faith, as is her way, tried to blow it off as no big deal that he was obviously choosing to return to Buffy rather than stay a duo with herself. Giles had agreed that was what he was doing, but wanted Faith to understand the reasoning.
According to Giles, he knows that she’ll be just fine on her own. He describes it as her having a core strength that Buffy continues to lack. He feels that his original Slayer cannot do without him, whereas Faith can.
They hug goodbye.
Faith sits at her window in the jet in the present: Is that mist in her eyes?
Commentary: Yeah, fine Giles. You’re probably right, but it still sucks that we never got to see the full Rupert Giles & Faith comic treatment… although Faith and Tween!Giles probably wouldn’t have been the same, anyway.
I also have trouble seeing Faith as a corporate worker, even with a Slayer-run business.
Page 03: Meanwhile, in London – Angel has come face to face with the mysterious “her” that he’d been hearing of on the streets of “Magic Town”. The “her”, as we saw last issue, is Nadira – magically transformed Slayer.
Angel is a little taken aback by Nadira greeting him warmly, considering that last time he saw her she was holding a grudge over the deaths of her original Slayer team at the hands of Nash and Pearl. They’d been sent on a mission to do just that by Twi-Angel.
Nadira tells him now that her grudge was from a lifetime ago and she’s a whole new being now. So far, her new powers are as some sort of clairvoyant, but she also may have a connection to somebody non-corporeal. Right now, it’s not clear as she’s acting like a less murderous and less deranged Drusilla.
Commentary: And since I’ve already talked about Nadira and Dru in reviewing Issue 1, I’m just gonna let it go and move on.
Page 04: Nadira and Angel walk back out where a group of baseline humans have taken refuge, as they feel they’ve nowhere else to go and ‘Magic Town’ has gotten more strange and dangerous than they can cope with.
There is a new arrival in a state. Through tears, he explains that his friends have become something other and that they murdered and ate one of his neighbors and then hung her bones on the door.
All of the blood and screaming haunts him, and he ran as fast as he could.
Nadira uses this to tell Angel that this is part of the reason that she now needs his help. Angel at first tries to beg off, as he is still dealing with Corky and his gang of Pixies.
Page 05: Nadira understand that Corky has to be dealt with as well, but she’s also sure that his way of going about it won’t work. Her invisible advisor or voice in her head tells her that Angel needs to locate The Glass Blower for her to stop the chaos around her.
Angel, of course, has no idea what she is talking about or if he can trust her advice.
Commentary: I’m still taking a wait and see in regards to Nadira as an ongoing, supporting character. I wasn’t taken with her before and turning her into an Alasdair substitute with Dru-ish visions hasn’t changed my mind, yet.
Page 06: Back in the States, Faith is facing off against her own woman she’s not sure of: The HR director, welcoming her to Deepscan with a knee-high pile of guides, paperwork, and packets.
She tries to tell her that she’s the new Slayer and isn’t looking for all of this ‘cubicle-jockey’ bit, but Kennedy’s HR overseer is entirely unimpressed.
Page 07: Angel, over in ‘Magic Town’ puts Nadira’s request and her state of being on the back burner. He’s half-convinced that she’s had a trauma induced mental break and even directly compares her to Drusilla [see, it’s not just me], including drawing disciples looking for a mad savior.
He instead chooses to focus on finding and stopping Corky before any more people die.
Commentary: I like that Angel directly references last season’s Dru-arc where she was briefly sane and was using a Lorophage demon to become a messiah for the lost and psychologically pained. And the truth is that the parallel does match Nadira right now, up to a point. I’d wonder at Angel being so dismissive about what she may be up to, whether real or imagined, but I can hand wave this for now because Corky did leave a body nailed to his ceiling.
And obviously, I’m sure that we’re going to find that Nadira’s not insane and is in touch with something.
Page 08: Angel stops by at the bar he visited last issue. He tells the barkeep that he was pointed in the wrong direction the last time he was in there. He also apologizes for them getting off on the wrong foot. He hopes that they can start over.
Barkeep gives him a free beer, on the promise he doesn’t tear the place up again. But, he’s less forthcoming about any rumors regarding where the Pixies can be located, although he is looking over his shoulder suspiciously.
Page 09: A moment later, we see a Lizard Man at the end of the bar. The Lizard Man has his fingers laced, but clearly raises two of them as a signal to Barkeep, before he slips out into the night.
After Lizard Man has had time to slip out, Rory the Barkeep offers that he’ll tell him what he’s looking for since it isn’t that much of a secret, anyway.
The way Angel is giving a shift-look over his beer, we can intuit that he probably saw the not very subtle hand sign and has made a note of the Lizard Man.
Commentary: I can already see myself as welcoming Rory the Barkeep as an irregular informant among Angel’s rogues gallery. He’s got the looks of half-werewolf with some Wolverine facial hair and a Willy The Barsnitch from Sunnydale feel to his character. If they bring out some personality to him, and since Angel does best as part of an ensemble, I’d welcome this guy in the fold.
Page 10: Angel heads down into the tunnels of London, presumably still under the ‘Magic Town’ suburb. He tells us in his thoughts that he considered asking Rory about The Glass Blower, but didn’t want to distract himself from his Corky-quest by getting sidelined by Nadira’s rambling.
He’s also considering that he’s being led into a trap, but considers that Rory – while not to be trusted – may still be helpful.
In the tunnels, Angel doesn’t sense anything and thinks for a moment that Rory’s information wasn't good when a fist comes from off-panel, correcting him on that score.
Page 11: Our fist belongs to ‘Tommy’, a ginourmous warthog faced manimal. Angel and Corky share banter with Corky assuring Angel that when Tommy is done tearing him apart the pieces will be left in the sunlight.
Angel tries to tough talk, but he’s silenced with a wicked-strong left hook.
Commentary: A trope that really, really bugs me [beside the ‘antagonistic cute meet’] is when something a large as a truck hides behind the black: I.E. Because they’re off screen, no one can see them until the camera POV reveals them. In comics, this is presented as being off panel, but it’s the exact same thing.
Without some specified magic, there is simply NO WAY that Angel didn’t see this behemoth coming before his fist flew on panel to connect. And, of course, we’ll get no such indication that they just teleported in, or used some sort of masking spell to cover their very sudden entrance.
It’s really irritating.
Page 12: Over in the States, Faith is getting used to using a gun in the shooting range. Kennedy intercepts her there to assign her a first mission.
Page 13: Faith’s first case is to be a simple “shoo away the groupies” gig for some mid-level size local rock star named Billy Rage. Faith tries to take the job seriously, but as Kenn is walking away [and after Buffy’s fiasco, we have to think] you can see her wondering if Faith is going to work out.
Page 14: Under Magic Town, Angel is getting his ass handed to him by Tommy under the direction of Corky. He’s sent face first into… no, no, not a sewer… a WATER OUTFLOW PIPE.
Page 15: Corky tells Tommy to give Angel a snootful of that, but as Tommy holds Angel’s head under water (not sewer… not!), Corky starts to wonder if drowning a vampire is even possible. He wonders aloud to Tommy if they even actually breathe.
Angel’s answer is to reach his hands up behind his head and grab two of Tommy’s thick fingers. He gives ‘em a good breaking, causing Tommy to roar in pain but also more importantly to let go of the back of Angel’s head.
Commentary: It’s hard not to see that maybe Corky’s dialog here is a bit of a tweak toward the way vampires supposedly don’t breathe, and yet we’re constantly seeing actors out of breath, smoking cigarettes [with full inhale] and … oh, yeah… TALKING.
Page 16: Angel, now that he’s up out of the storm runoff water – ONLY – takes the attack onto Tommy, first with a bit of choking and then a haymaker that knocks the giant out.
Angel, now in full vamp!face and pissed [I guess he’s like his ex-girlfriend; He really hates it when they try to drown him.] shouts for Corky to no doubt tell him about all of the pain he’s about to be in. But a different off panel voice tells him the Pixie is long gone.
This new person is Inspector Brandt, and like his counterpart in San Francisco- Detective Dowling, he now finds himself having to confront the supernatural while still performing general police work.
Page 17: On Faith’s first gig, she’s rocking the skirt and suit jacket look and reporting in that Billy Rage is on his way backstage for a meet and greet with some contest winners. He’s all excited about rocking the venue and his hangers-on are partying it up.
Page 18: Billy is sleazing it up with some teenybopper and Faith asks another Slayerguard if the job is always so gross. She agrees it’s pretty nasty, but just tells her it figures considering what it said in his file. Faith pretends to have actually read said file, as she should’ve.
The usual rocker-ick is interrupted by a commotion. A large man barrels into the backstage area demanding to see his daughter; He’s teenybopper’s. He’s angry. And, he’s armed with a gun.
Page 19: Faith flying tackles our enraged father, causing the gun to go off twice before his face hits the floor. Peggy rushes across toward Faith, begging her not to hurt her dad, who is bloody faced and is about to have his arm broken.
He shouts that Peggy is only seventeen. Faith does not look, nor sound, happy.
Page 20: In London, the Inspector is treating Angel to a pub drink [Uh—Angel did go and change first, right?? I mean it’s hard to tell since all of his clothes are bought in bulk and ergo look like carbon copies but really… he did change, right?] and discussing Corky Smallwood.
Corky’s history was as a smalltime hoodlum who was into purse snatchings and other rather pathetic small crimes and misdemeanors. And Inspector Brandt used to police this section of London. But now that Magic Town is, he’s been ordered to pull out and leave it to policing itself and that has allowed Corky to be bigger than he ever was before his alterations.
Brandt wants Angel to help him and he offers Angel his perspective on who is who in the neighborhood. He still feels responsible for his beat, and he wants to see to it that the residents are just as safe now, as they generally were before the magic got dumped on it.
Angel takes it under advisement. He also asks if Brandt has ever heard of a glass blower of note, but he hasn’t.
Commentary: I guess it’s logical that there be some sort of police involvement with Angel but this feels a little too closely to Buffy and Dowling, so they’re going to have to put some thought into what to do with Brandt as a character. Right now, it’s too early to judge but you can easily see him as becoming another member of Angel’s supporting cast. It’s too bad that Laura Weathermill is an IDW character as she would really fit in well here. I’d still really like to see one of Angel Investigation’s crew show up though as a regular whether it be Gunn, Connor or Kate.
Page 21: Backstage with Billy Rage, Faith is trying to break up the conflict. Billy orders her to throw Peggy’s father out for breaking up his party, but Faith tells him her job is to protect him – not help him procure jailbait.
Peggy’s father launches himself to wrap his beefy hands around Billy’s throat, while Faith is distracted by Peggy herself jumping on Faith’s back and screeching that she’s to leave her daddy alone.
Commentary: Which is only irritating because that means the other Deepscan Slayer partnered with Faith didn’t bother watching her back. And there is a third woman on page 17 who is certainly decked out like she is on Faith’s detail… where the hell is she? What if it wasn’t Peggy but somebody drunk with a gun who wanted to add to the mayhem for the kicks? This just isn’t coming across as very bodyguardy – and in fact, when added to Buffy’s debacle is really looking like Kenn is in over her head with this business model.
Page 22: As it turns out, Billy Rage wasn’t in as nearly of danger as Peggy’s father thought. As everyone is distracted by Faith grabbing Peggy’s dad by the back of the collar, while simultaneously giving a small punch to Peggy’s chin, Billy begins hulking out.
It turns out that ‘Billy Rage’ is wearing a bit of tech that masked his true origins. He’s not human-sized at all, naturally. Instead he’s a huge, bulked up, purplish, spike headed, web-eared, beak-faced, glowing yellow eyed behemoth.
Faith gets a grin as she’s suddenly faced with using her Slayer powers as they were meant to be used.
Commentary: The only thing I want to reiterate here is the lack of Faith’s partners in any of this. They should be using their powers for more than checking in with HQ when things go pear shaped!
The Good: I’m relieved that we got a bit of closure between Giles and Faith after everything they went through post-resurrection [yes, I’m still a bit disappointed that they won’t be staying in London with Angel].
Rory the bartender has enough personality to him for me to be interested in seeing him again as a semi-regular.
I liked that huge and hulking didn’t automatically translate into super-resistance and Angel’s breaking two of Tommy’s fingers and punching him took him out just like that.
It was amusing when Peggy jumped on Faith’s back and tried to pummel her head with her fist: “This. Is. Not. Happening.”
The Bad: Nothing.
Other Thoughts: I was less engrossed with Faith’s Deepscan exploits, but it was alright. I kept regretting that we were leaving Angel’s story for it though.
Angel does best as a character when he can work off of someone else [actually he shares that in common with Spike, along with all of the other character developments] and we really need to get him some engaging supporting cast A.S.A.P.
The Score: It’s an average issue, the middle of an arc. I wasn’t bored, but I’m not sure I’ll actually remember much of it an hour after I’ve read it.
3.0 out of 5 stars